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NPR Troy Public’s “In Focus with Carolyn Hutcheson”

NPR Troy Public’s “In Focus with Carolyn Hutcheson”

It was such an incredible honor to join Carolyn Hutcheson’s weekday “In Focus” conversation on NPR Affiliate Troy Public Radio.  She makes it her business to talk daily with “artists, historians, experts, environmentalists, musicians, authors, and other big thinkers and change-makers.” (What great company to be in!) Carolyn’s three decades of on-air experience and warm, conversational style were evident from the first moment and put Roy instantly at ease. Her genuine curiosity and willingness to ask hard questions revealed a depth of preparation that warmed our hearts.


In this delightful two-part conversation, Roy was able to revisit his and Judy’s ties to Georgia (he and Judy lived in Atlanta early in their marriage) and Florida (they lived in Tallahassee for two years and Judy did her expressive arts training at Expressive Arts Florida Institute in Sarasota). Carolyn hosts and produces “In Focus with Carolyn Hutcheson,” and Roy’s interview was to be part of Troy Public Radio’s Storyline book series. Carolyn is also a former Griefshare Facilitator, so it took no time at all to get right to the impetus of publishing It All Belongs.


In part one of their interview, Roy and Carolyn talked about Judy’s heart and her passion for helping people, her deep compassion for people who were suffering, either from a chronic condition or nearing the end of their life. Roy told Carolyn about Always We Begin Again, the nonprofit Judy founded shortly before becoming ill, and its mission to help people who struggled with chronic medical conditions find meaning, purpose, and joy in their life, day by day. And as a hospice volunteer for more than 15 years, Judy also had a heart and spirit for sitting with those nearing their life’s end and serving as a comforting presence for them and their families. As it turned out, both of these passions prepared Judy and Roy well to “walk their talk” through Judy’s illness, death, and Roy’s intense grief.


Roy and Carolyn talked about Judy’s big belief in the creative spirit within each of us. Roy shared how Judy liked to say, “If you put a bunch of five-year-olds in a room and ask ‘who can draw?’ everyone puts up their hand. If you ask the same question in a room full of adults, maybe one or two will timidly, halfway raise a hand.’ We lose something as we grow older,” he adds, “about the courage and sense of adventure it takes to embrace our inner artist.” It All Belongs includes almost 150 art images created by Judy before and during her cancer treatments and surgeries.


Because It All Belongs was based on journals, the topic drifted to how to journal, and why it’s such an oft-recommended remedy for soul and spirit work. Their conversation then turned to the practice of journaling. Admitting that he actually journaled very little while Judy was alive, Roy described how journaling became his lifeline after Judy died. “Journaling for me was a form of self-therapy. I took my journal everywhere. I was also blessed with some people, very, very close friends who I would share my journaling with. They told me they could see a transition from my early journals where I was writing as though I was in a pit and then in later volumes how they saw my transition to hope, to my grief softening. Journaling was a monumental healing tool for me.”


Because a large part of Roy’s journaling was poetry (and many of these poems are in the third part of It All Belongs), Carolyn invited him to read a poem she selected, on page 233, penned on Roy’s solo pilgrimage to the Island of Iona in Scotland—where he and Judy had once intended to visit together.


Landscape changes as you travel through it.

Life changes as you travel through it.

The land doesn’t change.

Mankind adds to and subtracts from it.

God doesn’t change

Mankind adds to and subtracts their own views of God.

True, cherished love is beyond forever.

True, deep grief lives with love.

Souls do not change. Divine souls.

Bodies change, strengthen, grow, tire, fade.

Land, God, Love, Souls—Holy constants.

Land, God, Love, Souls—eternal gifts.


In part two of this interview, Roy and Carolyn talked more deeply about Judy’s death—and her courage and openness with which she faced her inevitable death, even as they tried valiantly to save or even to extend her life. Roy said that witnessing her elevation of trust over fear—and watching how Judy transitioned from fear and anger to acceptance, actually helped Roy and others deal with losing Judy.


Roy related a tender moment in which their dear friend Ellen uttered words that became pivotal to sharing their book’s depth and meaning: “Judy has taught us how to live, and now she is teaching us how to die.”


A very special thank you to Carolyn Hutcheson for this wonderful conversation and the opportunity to share the messages of It All Belongs with her listeners of Troy Public Radio in Alabama.